Because of my study in creative writing, I have to write in a series of different formats.
What I mean by different formats is essentially changing from a writing style that you’re comfortable with, i.e. poetry, fiction, non-fiction to something that requires you change both your style of writing and your structure.
Throughout my study, I have predominantly focused on poetry, life writing and flash fiction. That’s just because this type of writing is what was required for my assignments, although I was personally interested and already actively writing two out of three of those.
The new one was life writing.
I had to learn how to expose parts of myself that I saw as average and mundane and meld my life into having some moral or meaning. That was exciting, but it was also very challenging. Doing some work before trying to start writing in a new style is what made all of the difference for my success in life writing.
I’m going to make another huge transition in my writing for university. I’m about to gain some experience with screenplays, something that I’ve never attempted or been interested in before.
So, if you’re about to try something new in writing and want to switch up the formats, here is what I recommend you do before you start writing!
- Know what you want to write.
With screenplays, there are a few types that I can choose from.
There are probably a few others, but for now, I’ll stick to these three main types of scripts. Every single one of these requires different things from the writer. So it’s important that I know the pros and cons of each script style and choose the best one for my work.
For instance, a radio show would require everything to be communicated by sound, either by voice or sound effects. With film, a lot can be expressed by body language and shots, experts recommend using as little dialogue as possible.
These two mediums are the complete opposite when it comes to writing style, with one you’re encouraged to communicate everything and with the other you’re encouraged to say as little as possible.
2. Research the types of writing you’re interested in.
If what you’re inspired to write doesn’t fall in line with the majority of genre rules, then your story probably doesn’t belong in the format you thought it did.
It’s essential to be honest with yourself when it comes to these things! If you’re attempting to get your work published, making sure it hits the right stylistic and genre notes is vital. Don’t try and squeeze your story into a format that doesn’t fit it comfortably!
If you think you want to write a radio show, but you don’t have much dialogue, and you don’t want to attempt an inner monologue then maybe you should be looking at a more visual story, like film or theatre.
Make sure your story suits what you’re attempting to do. If it doesn’t fit try a different medium, or a different type of story!
3. Read other things that fall into your genre or medium.
This one should be self-explanatory, and hopefully, you’re already doing that. If you’re trying to write a script, you should read some scripts. If you’re trying to write poetry, you should read some poetry.
This will make sure that you get the right tones. It will make sure that you don’t over or under direct a script. It will mean that you’ve put in the right amount of words, and it will also give you experience and inspiration for your own pieces.
Reading other works that are similar to what you want to create will give you your best chance at success. It might also help you know whether or not this is something that you want to try! It doesn’t have to be a lot, maybe two or three items if they are long or 5–10 items if they are short form.
Putting in the extra effort to read what you want to write will help you get more comfortable with the writing process. You’ll know more about what you’re trying to accomplish and you will have picked up some valuable tool or ideas to tuck into your story!
Do your homework. It’s important!
4. Check the formatting rules.
It’s okay if you just want to write in your normal formatting first, but it could save you some time when it comes to editing if you keep formatting rules in mind!
I look at the BBC for my rules when it comes to writing and screenplays, but this won’t be the policy for everyone. If you’re planning on submitting your work, make sure that when you edit, you’re following the rules of wherever you want to submit.
That’s just good practise.
It’s worthwhile noting that even in screenplays there are varying formats between stations and mediums. A radio scripts won’t look a thing like a film script and vice versa. That’s important to remember. One script won’t work for everything.
Make sure that you are reading the right information.
5. Give it a go.
Now the fun begins, open up your page and have a go at writing your opening scene.
You might find it easier to attempt converting of a story that you’ve already written. At this point, it’s only important that you give it the good old college try!
It probably won’t go that well, just a warning.
It will most likely feel unnatural, uncomfortable and entirely new, but that’s a good thing. You’re stretching your writing muscles and learning how to use them a new way.
This is the exciting part.
Just remember that the first draft is rarely good, so don’t worry about it if it’s messy and stumbling!
Refining and editing has always been a vital part of creating!
6. Re-examine your work.
At this point you’re looking again to make sure that the piece fits with the genre or medium that you’re trying to write in.
If you’re trying to write a poem, how does it compare to other pieces of similar format or topic? Did you implement stanzas and verses? Have you thought about the imagery, the rhythm?
It’s always good practice to read similar things to what you are attempting to write.
Especially at first.
If you’re trying to write a poem but don’t read poetry, how do you know what you are trying to write? How do you know if you’ve put enough layers in there?
Have fun playing with your new writing project. Don’t be afraid of failure. Some things will work, and others won’t. That’s the way that writing goes! As always, I cannot wait to see you on the bookshelf!